Pin It

'Imperial Bedrooms,' Bret Easton Ellis 

Bret Easton Ellis has written a satire. Either that, or he’s just sick.

click to enlarge art15484.jpg

Bret Easton Ellis is a satirist. I know this because that’s how he refers to himself. It’s good to keep repeating that to yourself as you read his books. It’s easy to mistake them for snuff-film novelizations.

His satirical characters apparently represent some kind of darkness, with Ellis bringing them to light because we light-dwellers need to be aware of their existence and casual nihilism and sociopathy. It’s not a wink, exactly. There’s no winking going on in American Psycho, which is why the book was so bluntly appealing. It’s something subtler and almost invisible. Which is why it’s good to keep reminding yourself, it’s a satire.

As Clay — the protagonist from Ellis’ 1985 novel Less than Zero and here again, 25 years later — lures a woman into an affair that gradually becomes outright rape: It’s a satire. As he jets off with two young prostitutes to soothe his broken heart (the girl he rapes doesn’t like him anymore) then loads them with drugs, locks them in a room and makes them torture each other: It’s a satire. It’s a satire.

At 170-ish pages and 14-ish point type, Imperial Bedrooms is called a novel but feels like a novella, both in length and lack of narrative roundness. The book is narrated in Ellis’ trademark style — frank, emotionless depictions of depravity and brutality — taken to an extreme that I’m not sure he’s managed before. (I’ve read several of his books, but not all.) None of the characters change, because perhaps Hollywood will never change. Clay is a screenwriter, and he’s the way he is because … well, who knows? He doesn’t even know.

There’s nothing to say here, because there’s very little being said. At the outset, though, Ellis allows Clay to mock the novel that was written about him 25 years ago (presumably Ellis’ own), and the subsequent (actual) movie, which moralized Ellis’ deliberately amoral book.

Imperial Bedrooms concludes with the line: “I never liked anyone and I’m afraid of people.” It’s a nice way to characterize Clay, but it also sums up Bret Easton Ellis pretty well too.

  • Pin It

Latest in Arts & Culture

  • Multimedia Composer
  • Multimedia Composer

    "Force of Attraction" reflects Larry Ellingson's fascination with light, sound and making art with unusual stuff
    • Oct 8, 2015
  • The Closer
  • The Closer

    Distilled: Crying in our beers
    • Oct 8, 2015
  • For Your Consideration
  • For Your Consideration

    A great read, a helpful comic and fresh hops abound
    • Oct 8, 2015
  • More »


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed
Jim Dine: A Life in Printmaking

Jim Dine: A Life in Printmaking @ Museum of Art/WSU

Mondays-Saturdays. Continues through Dec. 12

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Luke Baumgarten

  • Chasing Whales
  • Chasing Whales

    Let's focus less on courting big companies and focus more on nurturing big ideas
    • Feb 5, 2015
  • Completely Repellent
  • Completely Repellent

    How can we expect people to find constructive uses for space that wasn't built for them?
    • Dec 30, 2014
  • Screw Big Cities
  • Screw Big Cities

    A mid-sized manifesto
    • Dec 3, 2014
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Image Conscious

    The Civic opens its season with the unfettered "glitz and glam" of a con man's story
    • Sep 16, 2015
  • Sasquatch Man

    A man in Chewelah says he can communicate with Sasquatches and aliens, and also find water in the ground
    • Oct 8, 2015
  • More »

Top Tags in
Culture & Food



for your consideration



© 2015 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation